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Dictionary of American Regional English in trouble

April 7, 2013

The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) is a valuable resource for those interested in Americanisms – a much more complete and scholarly approach to the territory most famously imagined by H. L. Mencken in his The American Language.   You can read Ben Zimmer’s take on it here.   The DARE page at Harvard University Press has a large number of linked press notices.

But it seems the project is in trouble.  Both Zimmer and John McIntyre have made appeals for financial support for DARE following this e-mail sent by editor Joan Hall:

On the heels of our recent triumphs, DARE is experiencing a serious financial crisis. The situation is the result of a number of factors: we were not awarded federal and private grants we had anticipated receiving; private gifts have declined precipitously; a major foundation that has provided a large gift annually for twenty years has decided it must move on to other worthy projects; the UW has endured grave reductions in state support, and the College of Letters and Science is unable to provide assistance.

This leaves us in a very distressing situation, in which I have been obligated by University personnel rules to send layoff notices to the whole staff as of July 1, 2013. (My own position is in layoff status as of January 1, 2014, because I have a slightly different classification.)

I have spent most of my time in recent weeks writing appeals to former DARE supporters—foundation and individual—as well as potential new contributors. No luck yet.

What I hope that you will do is to help publicize our plight and let language mavens and fans of DARE know that if they’d like to help us, it’s easy to do. The home page of the DARE website ( has a “Donate” button. It will take readers to a secure University of Wisconsin Foundation site through which tax-deductible gifts can be given to DARE.

We’re on the verge of publishing the digital edition, and we can’t fail now!

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